The Social (Not Social Media) Need for Recognition

36% of employees say recognition, or a lack of it, is the top reason they leave their job. Employee engagement is often seen as a business priority, or at least, the programs that support it are often championed by human resources. But engaging employees through recognition is everyone’s responsibility. Employees want to be acknowledged and appreciated for the work they’re doing. That’s something that everyone should be doing, not just HR. It’s simple human kindness.

It makes business sense that HR is often the one who oversees the company’s employee recognition program. There are plenty of platforms, awards, and swag that can be purchased to help boost efforts to recognize employees and increase engagement. In fact, the global human resources management (HRM) market is projected to reach $30 billion by 2025. While these digital programs and platforms are great to help socialize and share recognition in organizations, don’t forget there’s still a need to activate the hearts and minds of the human spirit.

Imagine a supervisor who may be really good at recognizing employees through the company’s digital platform but is inconsistent at demonstrating these sorts of behaviors in person. Technically, the supervisor is recognizing others, but the perception may be that their recognition lacks an emotive response. While recognition software may work well to give a shout-out to a lot of members on a team, HR will be quick to remind that a meaningful in-person interaction can go the distance. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs breaks down what humans need to thrive, including the social need for belonging—that’s why employee engagement and recognition are important to an individual.

Often, companies look to becoming more “social” by digitizing or automating processes or programs to increase engagement. While a social media post expressing appreciation in the form of emojis, fireworks, and high-fives may spark a smile to some employees, remember that a face-to-face heartfelt “thank you,” may go a long way to help fulfill that human need of belongingness and evoke a strong positive emotion.

A lot of data and evidence support recognition’s substantial impact on productivity. However, the psychological effects and positive impact recognition have on employees are not emphasized enough. The feelings associated with experiencing recognition and gratitude create a “happy neurochemical cocktail” in the brain. It’s a healthy dose of dopamine and serotonin that concocts positive emotions, drives prosocial behavior, and fosters interpersonal interactions. It’s an enormously positive feeling on employees that one could label as happiness—imagine that in your organization at little to no cost.

Expressing recognition and gratitude is a powerful tool for enriching interpersonal relationships. Motivation and engagement increase once employees feel more connected with others in the workplace. Since the underlying needs of humans are social, organizations should consider all the different methods to help employees build stronger interpersonal relationships with each other, have more informal interactions, and create opportunities to genuinely engage with each other in social settings. While there’s nothing wrong with using social media to socialize, it’s important to remember the social factor and activate the human spirit.

At SGEi, we offer recognition training that will empower your teams and make them feel valued. Connect with us to see how we can ensure your recognition program is motivating, memorable, and effective.

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